Hands-on with comic-rearranging puzzler Framed for iOS
Sometimes it can feel like the App Store is a void of innovation. Another week, another slew of clones to clog up my iPad.
Which is why I have such high hopes for Framed. It's a puzzling adventure story that's about moving the frames of a comic book around so the trench-coated protagonist can escape from the pursuing police.
In the crowded alleyway of the Indie Arcade at Eurogamer Expo I dodge my way through a throng of dallying gamers and shake hands with Adrian Moore, the designer and composer behind the game.
He's keen to get me sat down and playing, which is a good thing because I'm blocking most of the walkway. I perch on a tiny stool, pull on the provided headphones, and tap to start.
The first few pages of the game are pretty simple. There are only a couple of panels I can move, and swapping out the order means rather than dashing into a policeman I manage to pop out of another door and sneak past.
It's a neat introduction to the way the game works, and explains the internal logic behind the puzzles - although things do feel a little formulaic.
But as I progress through more and more pages, the game begins to open up. There are more panels to move, tougher obstacles to bypass, and a greater feeling of accomplishment when you manage to reach the final panel.
One page needs you to rearrange a series of ledges so when you sneak past a police officer you're out of his field of vision. Another sees you moving panels with different ladders on them, clambering up and down to avoid the attentions of gun-wielding sentries.
When Framed spreads its wings a little it shows the ingenuity behind the level design, and this makes for a much more engaging and interesting experience.
Framed is a slow-burner, then, but that's not a bad thing. Each failure usually raises a smile, and slowly piecing together the order the frames need to be in gives the game a sense of progression that would be lacking if things were too simple.
Still, there's a balance to be struck between gratification and challenge, and it'll be interesting to see how Framed manages to keep things interesting while sticking to the structure it's built around.
I pop the headphones off and manage to stand up without pushing anyone over, turning to Adrian to tell him what I thought of the game.
He tells me there's still work to be done, that the music and some of the animations are yet to be finalised.
As I work my way back through the Indie Arcade, I feel good about Framed.
It's an intriguing mix of ideas that's full of potential, and, with the App Store ever-swelling with clones and copies, that makes it more than worth keeping an eye on.